IHL Expert Pool

Started in January 2022

International humanitarian law (IHL) — the body of norms that regulate armed conflicts — does not set out effective mechanisms to ensure compliance. This structural flaw prompts more and more victims of IHL violations to turn to other fora in order to facilitate implementation of IHL and/or obtain reparation for breaches thereof.

In recent years, several mechanisms set up under international human rights law have stepped in to fill this compliance void. By way of example, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council takes into account applicable IHL obligations while carrying out its Universal Periodic Review, and the investigative mechanisms that it has established at a growing pace do report on serious IHL violations. Also, regional human rights courts are increasingly engaging with IHL in their case-law, by applying IHL provisions indirectly or by accommodating them within the framework of governing human rights instruments.

For all its potential, such an engagement by human rights bodies with IHL is often criticized for being overly politicized, failing to prevent violations, antagonizing important stakeholders, and setting unrealistic requirements that lead to an overall weakening and/or misapplication of IHL.

The Project

In 2021, the Geneva Academy created an IHL Expert Pool (IHL-EP) composed of thematically and geographically representative experts in the field of IHL. The IHL-EP works to strengthen the capacity of human rights mechanisms to incorporate IHL into their work in an efficacious and comprehensive manner. By so doing, it aims to address the normative and practical challenges that human rights bodies encounter when dealing with cases in which IHL applies.

The IHL-EP provides expert advice on priority IHL themes on a solicited and non-solicited basis. Examples include bespoke technical guidance, the submission of amicus curiae briefs, preparation of language for reports by special rapporteurs, etc. Complementing this, the IHL-EP delivers training on IHL for human rights bodies and through targeted bilateral meetings.

Expected Outputs

The Expert Pool is a responsive mechanism that works to deliver technical assistance, capacity development and legal opinion for users within the human rights community of practice. While the majority of this work takes place behind the scenes and through quiet diplomacy, wherever possible outputs are re-packaged in an appropriate format for external use and distribution.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Aerial view of destroyed buildings News

Experts Discuss the Use of Open-Source Information to Document IHL and Human Rights Violations

10 January 2023

A one-day consultation aimed at discussing with a variety of experts the challenges, opportunities and best practices arising from an increased reliance on open source information in accountability processes.

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Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt present his annual report and reports on his missions to China and Greece at the 31st regular session of the Human Rights Council. 7 March 2016 News

New Expert Pool Will Strengthen the Capacity of Human Rights Mechanisms to Incorporate IHL into Their Work

29 September 2022

As part of this new IHL-EP, the Geneva Academy requested to intervene as a third party in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the case of Ukraine v. Russia (X).

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RESEARCHERS

Portrait of Dr Erica Harper

Erica Harper

Head of Research and Policy Studies

Erica Harper is a practitioner-academic specializing in international criminal law, human rights law and post-conflict governance.

Portrait of Francesco Romani

Francesco Romani

Research Fellow

His research interests include international humanitarian law, international cultural heritage law, human rights law, international responsibility and litigation, and the theory of sovereignty.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Destuction in eastern Ukraine News

Referendums on Joining Russia in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson: What Impact on Conflicts Classification?

10 October 2022

Our Research Fellow Dr Chiara Redaelli tells us whether these referendums will affect our RULAC classification of the armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine.

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Armoured vehicle patrolls the border, Tajikistan News

RULAC: Fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Amounts to an International Armed Conflict

26 September 2022

According to our RULAC online portal, the border fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that took place in mid-September 2022 amounts to an international armed conflict (IAC).

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Aleppo, Syria: great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Event

Book Launch: Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities

1 March 2023, 18:15-20:00

At this book launch, one of the book’s editors will discuss cultural heritage and mass atrocities with contributors to the book and specialists.

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A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

13-17 November 2023

This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.

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Syria, Harasta, destroyed buildings Training

Advanced IHL Seminar for Academics and Policymakers

28 August - 1 September 2023

Organized by the Geneva Academy and the ICRC, the Advanced IHL seminar for academics and humanitarian policymakers aims to enhance the capacity of academics to teach and research IHL and contemporary issues arising during armed conflict, while also equipping policymakers with an in-depth understanding of ongoing legal debates and their relevance to decision-making.

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Disruptive Military Technologies

Started in February 2020

This project aims at staying abreast of the various military technology trends; promoting legal and policy debate on new military technologies; and furthering the understanding of the convergent effects of different technological trends shaping the digital battlefield of the future.

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Mine Project

Business, Human Rights and Conflict-Affected Regions

Completed in July 2021

This project aimed at identifying and clarifying policies and practices for states and businesses, including public and private investors, across the full ‘conflict cycle’ and the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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Cover of the publication Publication

Assessment Tool for Special Procedures' Impact Evaluation – Developing an Initial Framework

published on January 2023

Jonathan Andrew

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Cover of the publication Publication

Right to a Healthy Environment

published on December 2022

Megan Donald

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